NASA returns to the Moon with the launch of both the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) aboard an Atlas V rocket departing from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:32 p.m. on 18 June 2009. The Atlas launched under the dark clouds of a retreating storm front. The inset at upper left shows the exhaust plume moments before the Atlas rocket disappeared into the clouds. The bottom image shows space shuttle Endeavour grounded nearby on Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center waiting for repairs to its External Fuel Tank after two failed launch attempts a few days previous.
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